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Children's Fiction General


the Story of a Beaver

by (author) Shirley Woods

illustrated by Celia Godkin

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Sep 2002
General, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2002
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 11
  • Grade: 3 to 6


The world is a dangerous place for a young beaver. Jack, along with his three siblings, learns quickly that even their lodge is not always safe. Bears, wolves, bobcats, trappers, and even birds of prey are a constant threat to the young kits. Mother, Father, the yearlings, and their old uncle all work hard to protect them. Nevertheless, out of the original litter of four, only Jack and his sister survive their first summer of life on the pond.

As Jack matures, he quickly becomes a working member of the colony. While he is expected to protect his mother's new litter, he also learns to fell trees, repair the lodge, and foil the trapper's snares. One day Jack will set out alone on a long journey of discovery. It is time for him to leave the colony, find a mate, and establish a home of his own.

About the authors

Shirley Woods always loved nature. After leaving school he served for three years in the Royal Canadian Regiment. After that he was a businessman, which is when he wrote seven non-fiction books, including The Squirrels of Canada for the National Museum. In order to devote more time to writing, Mr. Woods retired in 1989 and moved to Nova Scotia. He and his wife Sandrea live in the country near Halifax. Their house, which they share with four dogs, is on a hill overlooking the sea.

Shirley Woods' profile page

Author-illustrator Celia Godkin is is best known for her debut book, Wolf Island, which won the Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award. She has continued to write and illustrate children's books with environmental themes including Fire! which was shortlisted for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction. Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World has been nominated for the Green Earth Book Award. Born in England, Celia lives in Eastern Ontario.


Celia Godkin's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Writing for readers who have a deep interest in animal behavior and the natural world, the author of Kit: The Adventures of a Raccoon follows a beaver, Jack, in the wild from birth through two years of play, danger, and learning. Unlike two of his four sibs, Jack survives encounters with predators, both wild and human, as his mother and the other members of his closely knit beaver community provide protection as well as instruction. Finally reaching his second summer, Jack leaves his natal pond to strike out on his own, and after several adventures settles down with Dawn, a female. Along with naming the beavers, Woods occasionally anthropomorphizes their reactions, but he describes their behavior and physical development with authority, while capturing a sense of the natural rhythms of their lives. Godkin's occasional full-page, black-and-white illustrations, which resemble scratchboard art, underscore the landmark incidents in this low-key, informative Canadian import.
- Booklist

"describes [beaver behavior and physical development with authority, while capturing a sense of the natural rhythms of their lives."
- Booklist

"This account of a young beaver's life uses a skillful blend of fact and fiction to give readers a sense of the idylls and dangers of the animal's world."
- School Library Journal

"Young readers will gain an appreciation of nature while enjoying an adventure"
- Republican American, Waterbury, CT

"...presents a true-life view of an animal's early years. Jack and his siblings, born in the spring, face danger from predators. Woods never sugar-coats the story--Woods is adept at giving the animals individual personalities while never turning them into little people. Life moves in harmony with the seasons, with dangerous times as well as playful ones. Fascinating details of beaver life are seamlessly woven into an excellent tale. While this is a great book for classroom learning, it makes a good animal adventure story for any young reader."
- Children's Book News

Other titles by Shirley Woods

Other titles by Celia Godkin